Self, Worldviews and Foresight

I'm beginning to read a lot of about inner selves in the foresight and futures space, which is a good thing. It sets me thinking about what I'm trying to do ...

Self, Worldviews and Foresight

I wrote a post about What I Think About recently and this is a second post that has emerged from that. Let me know what your reaction is.

I'm beginning to read a lot of about inner selves in the foresight and futures space, which is a good thing. It sets me thinking about what I'm trying to do and whether a focus on worldviews and assumptions as shaping our thinking about possible futures is too esoteric, too far removed from where we are in the present.

We know about values and beliefs, mindsets and biases, but less about our worldviews it seems. When I see values, beliefs, mindsets and/or biases as the starting point in an exploration of our inner selves in other material, I now find myself always asking 'but where do they come from?' And of course, I answer 'our worldviews'.

It's not that worldviews aren't addressed in futures work, and challenging assumptions is a core approach. Just how assumptions are identified and how deeply they are challenged is what I want to explore.

I always come back to Causal Layered Analysis, developed by Sohail Inayatallah, which has four levels: the litany, social causes, discourse/worldview, and myth/metaphor. And the work of Joseph Voros who defines what he calls a Generalised Layered Methodology which has four layers:

  • External artefacts or ‘‘constructs of consciousness"
  • Internal artefacts or ‘‘contents of consciousness"
  • Internal processes or ‘‘capacities of consciousness"
  • External ‘‘conditions of existence’’ or ‘‘life conditions"

I am not going to go into detail about either approach except to say that their aim is to help us question ourselves, our assumptions and beliefs. Notice that there are internal and external aspects to these layered frameworks. Both matter. I will quote from Generalised Layered Methodology (p 37 - yes, it is a long paper) though:

the realm of foresight lies not in the outside world beyond the eye – in the
constructs and conditions perceived to lie there – but rather in the inside world behind it – in the contents and capacities of our consciousness and perception. That is, while foresight is often conceived of as an activity which looks to or at alternative futures lying somehow ‘‘out there’’, our view is that real understanding and insight comes from being able to look within; that seeing into ourselves gives us the greatest power to prospect and influence the future. In other words, deep understanding and insight come from ‘‘in-sight’’ – the ability to look within and to know ourselves.

Joe is a colleague and was my PhD supervisor (and I was once his boss) but his mind far exceeds mine. The words he wrote above describe exactly what I am trying to contribute to - how can we find our inner selves and our foresight, only one part of who we are, yet a critical capacity to help us reframe and reperceive the present as Pierre Wack wrote many years ago. We have to make our foresight conscious - I'm writing about foresight as a cognitive capacity here, not a label attached to a futures process.

Finding our inner selves in a futures sense doesn't happen in one workshop, it happens over time as we challenge our assumptions and our worldviews that now shape our foresight capacities, and the future images we accept and reject. I'm trying to find a way to enable finding our foresight before we start  applying futures approaches though, so it becomes more of a 'pre-step' to those processes.

How we perceive our futures is one component of our worldviews - and beginning to 'know our worldviews', in particular to understand how we think about futures is the space I'm trying to scope out.

More updates on progress to come and as always, get in touch via the Contact page or by email if you have comments, questions or feedback on this post. And check out the recommendation below.

I have a course on the Basics of Foresight which covers finding and using our foresight (which of course I recommend) but today I had a look at another course offered by The Futures School (TFSX) run by Frank Spencer and Yvette Montero Salvatico which I can also recommend. The course is Everyday Foresight: Unlock Your Inner Futurist – Being and it delves into the areas I'm exploring. Their site has other courses and lots of practical ways to start thinking about how you think about futures, and it is well worth your time to have a look.